NBA owners have handed out some gigantic contracts to players in recent years. Part of this is due to the salary cap increase. Many franchises do not have forward-thinking. They think about what a player has done previously as opposed to what they will do during the contract.
Injury history and age are two of the biggest culprits for a bad contract. While injuries can be unpredictable, a player that has had multiple surgeries in the past is likely to get injured again. Even though a player has been good, it doesn’t mean they will continue to be as good.
Five of the Worst Contracts in the NBA
The Washington Wizards thought they were securing their franchise player when they signed John Wall to a four year $170 million extension back in 2017 that would start in the 2019-20 season. Wall initially underwent surgery in January 2019 for a chronic Achilles issue which expected a six to eight-month recovery timetable.
However, a month later he had surgery again for a ruptured Achilles, an injury that takes a year to recover from. This is especially concerning for a player like Wall, who relies on his athletic ability to thrive. Wall will turn 30 in September, and the Wizards will be paying him approximately $41 million, $44 million, and $47 million over the next three seasons.
The Wizards are stuck with Wall and have to hope that he can return to his pre-injury form.
The Los Angeles Clippers re-signed Blake Griffin in the summer of 2017 to a five year 171 million contract. In January of the 2017-18 season, Griffin was traded to the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons wanted somebody who was “box office” and could put fans in the stands. Griffin had a fantastic 2018-19 season in which he played 75 games and averaged a career-high in points per game (24.5).
In the 2019-20 season, however, Griffin completely fell off the face of the earth. He averaged career lows across the board and only played in 18 games before undergoing knee surgery in January. Griffin is 31 years old and will be paid $36 million and $38 million over the next two seasons.
It remains to be seen if the surgery will catapult him back to all-star status, but this season likely is the beginning of the end of Griffin as a franchise player.
The Philadelphia 76ers signed Al Horford to a four year 109 million contract last summer. Horford will be 34 next month and is averaging the fewest amount of points per game since the 2008-09 season. His field goal percentage is also the worst of his career.
Horford is still a good defender who can shoot from three but is not a great fit next to Joel Embiid. This has forced Horford into a bench role. The whole situation is not what the 76ers had in mind when the first signed him. Horford will be paid $27 million, $27 million, and $26 million over the final three years of his contract. Horford’s production should decline over the next three seasons, and his contract will become close to untradeable.
The 76ers will have a hard time making their team better, making this one of the worst contracts in the NBA
After a stellar 2017-18 campaign, the Houston Rockets had to give Chris Paul a four-year, $160 million contract. The Rockets had just taken the Golden State Warriors to game seven of the Conference Finals. They had to run it back. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.
Paul and James Harden clashed and their season ended by Warriors again. Paul was subsequently traded this past offseason for Russell Westbrook. The Oklahoma City Thunder took on Paul’s contract by receiving several first-round draft picks. However, despite the picks, the contract is still a nightmare. Paul is 35, and after this season is owed $41 million and $44 million over the next two seasons.
Paul did have a solid first season on the Thunder, being selected as an all-star for the first time since 2016. However, nobody can deny that Paul’s stats will decline over the next two years.
Tobias Harris was having a career year with the Clippers last year when he was traded to the 76ers in February. In free agency, once it was apparent that Jimmy Butler would not be returning, the 76ers focused on re-signing Harris. They signed him to a five-year, $180 million contract.
Harris is going to be paid an average of $36 million over the next four years. This is a lot for somebody who has never been an all-star. Harris will be 28 in July which means he is entering his prime, but his track record hasn’t been spectacular. Even with Jimmy Butler gone, Harris has only averaged one more point per game than he did last year as the fourth option. His career-high average for points per game is 20, and his ceiling isn’t high. This will be one of the worst contracts in the NBA.
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